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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

ABC News Arizona: Testing Hand Sanitizers:

Do hand sanitizers really work? We put them to the test

Last Update: 10/27 7:09 pm

Reported by: Linda Hurtado,

Everyone is always looking for ways to keep their families healthy.  The CDC says washing your hands is the best way to protect yourself against getting sick. 

But is it? What about those hand sanitizers many people carry around. Do they work better? Or at all?

Many Valley kids are doing it; playing games like basketball and cheering each other on from the sidelines. You better believe that plenty of their hands touched the ball too.

This is often how viruses and other bacteria are spread. So we put hand sanitizers to the test and found out if they’re the same and if soap and water better protect you from getting sick.

In the test, 16 nine and ten-year-olds tried eight products, half name brand hand sanitizers and half generics. Four others tried soap and/or just water. 

Here's one student's theory: "If you wash your hands with water you get a couple off your hands, but if you use soap and water you'll probably get most of the germs off your hands."

The test worked like this: Each child touched their finger tips to a petri dish before treatment. Then a squirt of hand sanitizer and they touched the petri dish again. Most hand sanitizers contain some kind of alcohol compound, either ethyl or isopropyl.

Then the petri dishes were sent to Burt Anderson, a Professor of Molecular Medicine at the University of South Florida. "We put them into an incubator to allow the bacteria to grow."

The results were pretty clear. In the petri dish from one student's test, Burt Anderson says there were 90 to 100 colonies of bacteria before she used an alcohol-free foaming hand sanitizer.

“In this case it was a hand sanitizer using the compound called benzalkonium chloride. You can see a drastic and dramatic reduction to no colonies at all,” Anderson says.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Because of inherent dangers, our school will not be using alcohol-based sanitizers in classrooms. When hand washing isn't available, we insist teachers use alcohol-free products to prevent the spread of germs and viruses.

Derry Martabano, Director
Kiwi School,Mahopac, New York.